Jesus, the embodiment of God’s shocking forgiveness, provides us with the opportunity to love with abandon.
It is shocking to Simon the Pharisee that his guest lets a notorious sinful woman approach him. He doubts, therefore, that Jesus is a prophet.
Simon and the other guests find even more shocking, of course, that unacceptable public expressions of intimacy do not bother Jesus, for there at Jesus’ feet is the woman, with her hair undone. She bathes his feet with her tears, wipes them with her hair, kisses them and, finally, anoints them with expensive perfume.
The one who looks into the heart perceives the woman’s sentiments and the Pharisee’s thoughts. He speaks and tells a parable. He makes it known that such shocking display of love shows without question that the woman is already forgiven. She loves so much since much has been forgiven to her. Her gratitude turns into an outpouring of love.
Hence, it is not that the woman’s shocking love has made her deserving of forgiveness. She really has no way of repaying her debts. Forgiveness is due solely to Jesus’ mercy and is the result of faith that works through love. The same faith has impelled her to go to Jesus, who now finally confirms that she is justified by faith and forgiven. He says to her:
Your sins are forgiven.
He adds, for good measure:
Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.
In spite of our listening to the parable, not all of us who try to follow Jesus remain as faithful as Mary Magdalene (she is not to be mistaken for the sinful woman) to the inclusive Christian mission of evangelization and healing. There are in the Church pharisaical Christians who love little.
Seeing the appearance and judging before the appointed time, modern Pharisees insist that there be separation now between the “blessed” and the “accursed.” They find it bothersome—if not altogether shocking—that growing together until harvest time are the wheat and the weeds.
They also feel “that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in ‘irregular’ situations” (AL 305). They hide “behind the Church’s teachings, ‘sitting on the chair of Moses and judging at times with superiority and superficiality difficult cases and wounded families.’”
They probably do not take seriously the teaching, “The Eucharist … is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” (EG 47). Are they not the ones who would dishonor the poor person in shabby clothes in our assemblies and honor the one wearing fine clothes?
Grant us your shocking forgiveness, Lord Jesus. Make us understand that love is above all rules (SV.EN X:478).
June 12, 2016
11th Sunday in O.T. (C)
2 Sam 12, 7-10. 13; Gal 2, 16. 19-21; Lk 7, 36 – 8, 3